Rules

A forum for scholastic discussion/debate.

Rules

Postby Will » Thu Nov 24, 2011 1:05 am

Pardon my density, but as I mentioned in another post, these rules are opaque to me. Rather this sentence is:

Posts containing personal opinions and conjecture, points of view arrived at from meditative experiences, conversations with devas/gods or based solely on a teacher's saying are all regarded as off-topic, therefore will be subject to moderator review and/or removal.


Kindly replace it with what is considered by the mods as proper "on-topic" content.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Rules

Postby BradleyWiggens » Thu Nov 24, 2011 8:19 am

Posts containing personal opinions . . .


I'm not sure I understand this either.

Assuming that any interpretation of scripture is a personal opinion, then that leaves only pure reasoning. Is that correct?
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Re: Rules

Postby catmoon » Thu Nov 24, 2011 10:24 am

*Catmoon wanders in, smelling of whisky and pickled herring. Staggering to a corner, he collapses and begins to mumble incoherently*

"Ish a conundrum, at's wat it is" he gets out between fishy belches. "Nice room tho".

*Catmoon reels to a window, loses his balance and falls out, landing in the rose bushes below with a hearty thud*

A blast of profanities isssues forth.

"Wasn't my dang idea" he hollers from below.

"Maybe the perfessers know what ta do. It's their dang room! Never thot o that one now didja!"

Nothing else is heard for a very long time. A few robed academics wander to the window and peer out in concerned silence.
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Re: Rules

Postby Blue Garuda » Thu Nov 24, 2011 10:58 am

It's OK, none of this is real. Just chill. ;)

Just words empty of inherent meaning so that others can imply, infer or impute using other impenetrable premises and logic. All swans are white therefore all white things are swans - that kinda stuff.

Rules for Academic Debate:

Only quote as facts the views of someone who might have written or said something long enough ago for it to be respectable. Preferably they must be dead.

Refute the above with a similar source, or if this proves impossible, make up a source and stick 'MN' somewhere at the front - works every time. If caught out, invent a translator and blame them, accompanied by a dead link.

Opacity will be the acid test - any simple phrases may be subject to embellishment and aggrandisement by Mods.

On no account express any views of your own, especially as you don't actually exist to be the possessor of those views.


See, easy! :)
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Re: Rules

Postby Tara » Thu Nov 24, 2011 11:46 am

The wording of the rules for this forum are under review, thanks for your contributions.

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Re: Rules

Postby Tara » Thu Nov 24, 2011 2:45 pm

The rules for this forum have been changed into Guidelines viewtopic.php?f=102&t=6010 . Thank you to all those who gave constructive criticism and a special thanks to those who contributed something positive.

Enjoy!

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Re: Rules

Postby Will » Thu Nov 24, 2011 4:02 pm

More to be grateful for - Happy Thanksgiving :thanks:
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Rules

Postby larch » Sat Nov 26, 2011 2:29 pm

Dear users and moderators,

I think there's a strong need for clarification on what the "academic" in "academic discussion" means. In my opinion, that should also be part of the rules.

From my point of view, only a very small percentage of the contributions here qualify as academic. Most of the time it looks like a first year student walking up on a professor trying to compete with him and to prove him wrong. The result of all that is obvious: Lot's of wasted time and not much quality for anyone besides those getting "private lessons" that way.

Probably there's also a cultural component to it as I have never been at universities outside Europe or Asia, but I doubt that it could be that different in north america etc.

If questions are posed in this part of the forum, shouldn't this post then itself qualify as academic? I know it's a lot of work but trying to skip all the reading and studying by asking in this part of the forum seems wrong to me.

Why create a academic discussion section when the quality of questions/answers don't differ much from the rest of the forum?

With no offense intended, but I really do think that there's a strong need to work that out.

All the best :namaste:


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Re: Rules

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Sat Nov 26, 2011 5:12 pm

Well for one thing, if something is academic I would think that there would be a reference for it aside for personal experience or opinion. Check out posts from Namdrol. He always has an academic reference handy. :)

Best,
Laura

Edited to add: I know and understand that we all can't be Loppons. But it's still a useful example.
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Re: Rules

Postby larch » Sun Nov 27, 2011 1:42 pm

Dear Ngawang Drolma,

thanks for your response. True, we can't all be Loppöns, but that's not what I requested nor could request, being far from such qualification. Besides I noted that there are truly qualifying posts.

I read the rules closely of course but they are probably not precise enough for many people (well, see for yourself). Giving references would be a good start, but that's also not all there is to academic arguments. That's why I thought it might be good to clarify these terms for those who are not used to that kind of discussion.

Probably I'm just being overly critical, taking the adjective "academic" far too literal, and it might be better to just keep on watching these issues for a bit longer. In that case I kindly ask to be ignored :smile: .

The core intent of my thought is though, that people could benefit greatly from productive and constructive academic discussions and that therefore, the academical quality of posts shouldn't be taken too lightly. That is _if_ and only if this shall be an academic forum and not just another part of the forum with the sole difference that this part focuses on "boring stuff" like scriptures, definitions etc. (being cynical here).

Oh well, let's just wait and see... :popcorn:

Best wishes :namaste:


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Re: Rules

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Sun Nov 27, 2011 3:35 pm

Dear larch,

Yes, I see what you mean. And often I feel that quality beats quantity. The staff team is handling the wording and policy to address it :)

Best,
Laura
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Re: Rules

Postby RichardLinde » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:32 am

larch wrote:That is _if_ and only if this shall be an academic forum and not just another part of the forum with the sole difference that this part focuses on "boring stuff" like scriptures, definitions etc. (being cynical here).


Given that the Buddha himself was not an academic, and the authors of the scriptures were probably not academics either, this means that the scriptures are not academic references. Is my reasoning mistaken?
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Re: Rules

Postby catmoon » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:41 am

An academic reference can be anything referred to in an academic discussion.

However, there are other ways of referring to scripture. Once again, it begs the question, "What is academic and what is not?".

In an academic discussion, the standard false forms of argument - ad hom, appeal to authority, appeal to majority positions and so on, are generally not used. Participants need to be thoroughly versed in the art of avoiding such forms of argument. Academic discussion should be impartial, meaning the participants should be motivated by the pursuit of truth rather than simply choosing positions and fighting to the death over them. The acid test of this is when solid arguments are piling up against one's position. The academic recognizes, (one hopes) that this is happening and knows when it is time to make a concession, and it won't bother him in the least. Instead, he will actually be pleased that the argument is working in its intended way - to break up falsehood and delusion and clear the path to understanding.

There is are interesting links with Buddhist thought here. The academic should not be attached to his position, just as a Buddhist should not be attached to his views. So it might be said that academic discussion belongs to those who have proven, through long practice, that they have in fact broken such attachments. An academic should be fully aware that his views are just views like anyone else's, and has no inital preference for one over the other. He simply chooses the point of view that seems to have the most supporting arguments and facts. This is a second link with Buddhist thought - it is equanimity in practice.
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Re: Rules

Postby RichardLinde » Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:52 am

catmoon wrote:In an academic discussion, the standard false forms of argument - ad hom, appeal to authority, appeal to majority positions and so on, are generally not used.


I would say that they are not used in any civil conversation!

A Buddhist discussion that did not ever appeal to the authority of scripture, or to the authority of teachers, or to the authority of the consensus opinion, would be a very interesting one indeed. So I truly commend you if that is what you are aiming for. It gives me some degree of hope for the world.

Perhaps the forum could be called "Civil Discussion", rather than "Academic Discussion".

The academic recognizes, (one hopes) that this is happening and knows when it is time to make a concession


Given that academics have a great many different ideas regarding religion, I don't think this is likely. Suffice to say that I don't think the academics will be settling on Ultimate Truth anytime soon.
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Re: Rules

Postby catmoon » Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:07 am

RichardLinde wrote:A Buddhist discussion that did not ever appeal to the authority of scripture, or to the authority of teachers, or to the authority of the consensus opinion, would be a very interesting one indeed. So I truly commend you if that is what you are aiming for. It gives me some degree of hope for the world.




This is the reason the word "generally" appears in my post above. Many, if not all, academic discussions are based on some common assumptions. For instance, one might stipulate that a certain scripture is a correct expression of the Buddha's teachings and proceed from there, exploring the ramifications of such a stipulation, never forgetting that it is just a stipulation. Academics often observe variations on the principal of parsimony, one version of which is that assumptions should be kept to a minimum. Another variation on the theme is that simple explanations should be preferred over complex ones, all other things being equal. Another variation is that one should not multiply entities needlessly: an explanation that required the postulation millions of unseen beings in countless heavens should, all other things being equal, be discarded in favor of one that does require such postulations.
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Re: Rules

Postby RichardLinde » Mon Nov 28, 2011 5:21 am

catmoon wrote:One might stipulate that a certain scripture is a correct expression of the Buddha's teachings and proceed from there


Yes, I think I know what you mean. Are you saying that the participants in a conversation might agree among themselves to merely assume a particular interpretation of a scripture, to see where that leads - even though that interpretation might not be the interpretion they personally hold?

I can certainly see the benefit to that.

It must be said, however, that getting people to assume a particular interpretation, purely for the sake of argument, might be very difficult for some people, especially when they are convinced that their own personal interpretation is absolutely correct.
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Re: Rules

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:24 pm

Would somebody like to point out to me the difference between an appeal to auhority and an academic reference, coz it seems to me that an academic reference is merely an appeal to academic authority.

Why would quoting from a Sutra and Sutta not be valid as an academic reference whereas quoting somebodies (an academics) commentary on a Sutra or Sutta is? Sounds like a distinct case of chinese whispers.
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Re: Rules

Postby catmoon » Tue Nov 29, 2011 3:23 am

The difference is that in an appeal to authority, it's just a matter of demonstrating the Authority has said something and therefore it is true.

In an academic reference, one is referring to a reasoned argument someone has made. The reference is there to allow he reader to go and examine that argument firsthand, saving endless repetition of basic arguments. References are used for other things too, such as enabling the reader to access original data gathered or discoveries made. A reference can also be a direct demonstration of what a previous researcher's position is, should that come into dispute.
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Re: Rules

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Nov 29, 2011 9:37 am

But if the authority (the Buddha for instance) arrived at their conclusion through reasoning and experience then why would they not be considered academic? The teachings in the Suttas, for example, are extraordinarily well reasoned. You won't find the Budha saying: "Listen a**hole, I said it, so just suck it up and believe it!" There is always a well reasoned and logical explanation for what is being said.

So why would using the teachings not be considered valid?
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Rules

Postby Tara » Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:58 am

Er ... Image ... hmm

It appears from this topic that an "Academic Discussion" forum may not be workable.

It was hoped when this forum was created that those who already had a grasp of the principles of academic discussion would utilize this particular forum to exchange knowledge etc. In the light of the fact the Guidelines (which were thought to be suitable for an Academic Discussion forum) appear to be causing confusion as to what can or cannot be deemed as academic, the team are discussing whether there is any point in retaining this forum. Watch this space!

Temporarily locked.

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